June 16th – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

AI That Won't Fool You, Weekend Whats, Feel Good Friday

Political campaigns have never been shy about using false information to fool prospective supporters. But now AI is coming into the mix. Deepfakes and fake news will be dangerous. But AI generated images are already in use. Thankfully, some campaigns are so terrible at making and deploying these images that we can get a glimpse of what’s coming—along with a few nervous laughs. In Toronto, an Anti-Homeless Mayoral Candidate Uses AI to Create Fake Images of Blight. He created fake images of a lot of other stuff, too. But you don’t have to be an expert in computer generated content to identify the clues. “That Furey’s campaign likely used a prompt-based image generator to illustrate its campaign literature is not in itself shocking; candidates across the world have embraced this dubious approach in the past year, fueling criticisms that AI is being used to spread misinformation and generally warp people’s perception of reality. What is startling about the images in Furey’s platform is that they contain mistakes so egregious and easy to spot that it makes one wonder how no one caught the issues, or if, alternatively, Furey believes the typical Toronto resident does in fact have three arms.”


Do Dad

“In fairness, this forklift operator had no idea that the crate he tossed into his car trunk contained a Picasso until he opened its casing. In fairness, he didn’t care much for it; he preferred realism. But now things had turned all too real. F.B.I. agents were hot on the trail of a hot Picasso unavailable for public viewing, as it was hidden in Rummel’s hallway closet. He and his fiancée, Sam, began to panic … Fortunately, Rummel knew a guy. Someone particularly skilled at making problems melt away. A fixer. He dialed a number he knew by heart.” Dan Barry in the NYT (Gift Article): Hey Dad, Can You Help Me Return the Picasso I Stole?


Molly Want a Cracker

“Brendan was once a leader in the US white nationalist movement. But when he took the drug MDMA in a scientific study, it would radically change his extremist beliefs – to the surprise of everyone involved.” BBC: How a dose of MDMA transformed a white supremacist. (If this could really be effective, we should put it in water like fluoride.)


Weekend Whats

What to Movie: I was lucky to go to an early screening of Wes Anderson’s new movie, Asteroid City, which is landing in theaters over the next week. It’s visually stunning, of course. And it’s weird, of course. In fact, even in the (near-universal) positive reviews, writers can’t really explain the movie or even why they’re reviewing it positively. I won’t even try. Just check it out.

+ What to Comedy: Sarah Silverman’s newest standup special on HBO is excellent, and could be the most Jewish standup special ever. (And in standup, that’s saying something.)

+ What to Celebrate: Happy tenth anniversary to my favorite T-shirt site (I buy all of my shirts there, and also sell my NextDraft shirts there). Happy Birthday, Cotton Bureau. Some of my faves include, Adequate Dad, Roy Effen Kent, Hodor-Wordle, and Sorry We’re Closed (off emotionally).

+ What to Doc: If you missed yesterday’s edition, I covered the loss of editor extraordinaire Robert Gottlieb and the absolutely great documentary about the relationship between Gottlieb and the writer Robert Caro.


Extra, Extra

Minneapolice: “A two-year federal probe of the Minneapolis Police Department finds the police racially discriminate against Black and Native people, use excessive force and ‘unjustified deadly force’ in policing and violate the rights of peaceful protesters. Collectively, the MPD’s culture and practices created the “systemic problems” that made possible the police killing of George Floyd, the newly released U.S. Justice Department report concludes.”

+ The Whistleblower: “Ellsberg never ran for office and only occasionally appeared on TV. But he altered the course of U.S. history in a way few private citizens ever have.” History-making whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg has died at 92. “Ellsberg’s mammoth disclosure would help to end the longest U.S. war of the 20th century. It would also prompt a landmark Supreme Court decision on freedom of the press. And it would provoke a response from President Richard Nixon that led directly to the scandals that ended his presidency.” Rosie Rosenthal looks back at his experience as a young reporter working on the Pentagon Papers story. The Pentagon Papers: Secrets, lies and leaks.

+ Greek Shipwreck: NYT: “Greek authorities blamed smugglers for a disaster that may have been one of the worst of its kind. Critics say tougher policies are increasing the risks.” Hundreds Dead, 9 Arrested, and Many Questions in Migrant Wreck.

+ Birth Risks: “Awareness is huge. Serena Williams had near-death complications during her pregnancy. Beyoncé developed preeclampsia. I hate that it takes Tori’s situation to put this back on the map and to get people to pay attention to it. But oftentimes, we need that wake-up call.” Allyson Felix in Time: Tori Bowie Can’t Die In Vain.

+ Shooting Guardrails: The NBA has suspended Memphis Grizzlies star Ja Morant for 25 games for waving around a gun in a video after being suspended for waving around a gun in a video.

+ Guilty: “The man accused of fatally shooting 11 Jewish worshipers and wounding several others at the Tree of Life Synagogue in 2018 has been found guilty on all counts.”

+ Depressing, But True: “Facing dozens of federal charges, former President Donald Trump is gaining support among Republicans and Republican-leaning independents as he ramps up his 2024 campaign.” (I’m guessing this headline won’t shake his support either, but… Trump shouts, ‘Food for everyone!’, does not buy food for anyone.)

+ Princely Sum Totaled: Spotify has ended its wildly overpriced podcast deal with Harry and Meghan.


Feel Good Friday

“Having more money than you know what to do with is usually a good thing, but for one California family, it’s a little bit more complicated than that.” Family finds 1 million copper pennies while cleaning out Los Angeles home. (But they didn’t find their missing AppleTV remote…)

+ This opera singer lost his voice after spinal surgery. Then he met someone who changed his life.

+ In a First, Wind and Solar Generated More Power Than Coal in US.

+ $930 million in grants announced in Biden’s effort to expand internet access to every home in the US.

+ Dog ejected from car during Sunday crash found on sheep farm, herding sheep.

+ 4500 miles for five bucks. Or why electric bikes are the most climate-friendly way to travel.

+ “Mario Wienerroither takes music videos, strips out all the sound, and then foleys back in sound effects based on what people are doing in the video. You’ll get the gist after about 6 seconds of this Jamiroquai video.”

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